We are privileged to live in a country that places great value on rights and freedoms, respecting and celebrating every person’s dignity and equality. Yet too often there are incidents of sexual violence against members of our community that cause not just individual harm, but also have the potential to create a hostile environment felt by all.
Sexual violence is an attack on Seneca’s values, and we will not tolerate it. Seneca is committed to maintaining a healthy and safe learning, living, social, recreational and working environment for everyone – students, employees and visitors. We are committed to campuses free of discrimination and harassment, and we strive to foster an atmosphere of healthy attitudes and behaviours towards sexuality, sex and gender roles.
This policy expresses Seneca’s promise to support those who experience sexual violence, and we are working hard with our partners inside and outside the College on sexual violence programs, policies and resources, including prevention and education.
With rights come responsibilities. We are an institution of higher learning, providing great teaching and learning opportunities for thousands of students who come to us from the neighbourhood next door, from every part of our region and province, and from around the world. It is our collective responsibility to help ensure Seneca is a safe and positive space for them, and for every member of our community. I know I can count on your support.
Revised Date Effective January 1, 2017
To be Reviewed Prior to January 1, 2019
This Policy applies to all members of the Seneca community including: all employees, governors, students, contractors, suppliers of services, individuals who are directly connected to any Seneca initiatives, volunteers, and visitors.
Sexual assault: A criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual act done by one person to another that violates the sexual integrity of the victim and involves a range of behaviours from any unwanted touching to penetration. Sexual assault is characterized by a broad range of behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, or control towards a person, which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, threatened, or that is carried out in circumstances in which the person has not freely agreed, consented to, or is incapable of giving consent.
Sexual violence: Any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent, and includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, and sexual exploitation.
Consent: The voluntary and explicit agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. It is the act of willingly agreeing to engage in specific sexual behaviour, and requires that a person is able to freely choose between two options: yes and no. This means that there must be an understandable exchange of affirmative words, which indicates a willingness to participate in a mutually agreed upon sexual activity. It is also imperative that everyone understands the following:
It is the responsibility of the initiator of sexual activity to ensure clear and affirmative responses are communicated at all stages of sexual engagement. It is also the initiator’s responsibility to know if the person they are engaging with sexually is a minor.
Note: For information purposes only, the Criminal Code defines “consent” as follows: Consent: The voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. No consent is obtained where:
Acquaintance sexual assault: Sexual contact that is forced, manipulated, or coerced by a partner, friend or acquaintance.
Age of consent for sexual activity: The age at which a person can legally consent to sexual activity. In Canada, children under 12 can never legally consent to sexual acts. Sixteen is the legal age of consent for sexual acts. There are variations on the age of consent for adolescents who are close in age between the ages of 12 and 16. Twelve and 13 year-olds can consent to have sex with other youth who are less than 2 years older than themselves. Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may consent to sexual involvement that is mutual with a person who is less than 5 years older. Youths 16 and 17 years old may legally consent to sexual acts with someone who is not in a position of trust or authority.
Coercion: In the context of sexual violence, coercion is unreasonable and persistent pressure for sexual activity. Coercion is the use of emotional manipulation, blackmail, threats to family or friends, or the promise of rewards or special treatment to persuade someone to do something they do not wish to do, such as being sexual or performing particular sexual acts.
Drug-facilitated sexual assault: The use of alcohol and/or drugs (prescription or non- prescription), including cannabis, by a perpetrator to control, overpower, or subdue a victim for purposes of sexual assault.
Indecent exposure: The exposure of the private or intimate parts of the body in a lewd manner, when the perpetrator may be readily observed.
Stalking: A form of criminal harassment prohibited by the Criminal Code of Canada. It involves behaviours that occur on more than one occasion and which collectively instill fear in the victim/target or threaten the victim/target’s safety or mental health. Stalking can also include threats of harm to the victim/target’s friends and/or family. These behaviours include, but are not limited to, non-consensual communications (face to face, phone, email, social media); threatening or obscene gestures; surveillance; sending unsolicited gifts; “creeping” via social media/cyber-stalking; and uttering threats.
Sexual harassment: Engaging in a course of conduct of a gender-related or sexual nature that is known or might reasonably be known to be unwelcome/unwanted, offensive, intimidating, hostile, or inappropriate. Depending on its severity, one action may constitute sexual harassment.
This may include, but is not limited to: demeaning gestures, remarks and jokes; slurs, taunting, innuendo based on gender or sexual orientation; unwanted physical contact; leering; inappropriate comments about clothing, physical characteristics or activities; unwanted questions or comments about one's private life, sexual orientation, marital or family status; the display of sexually offensive material; solicitation; unwanted attention; implied or expressed promise of reward or benefit in return for sexual favours; implied or expressed threat or act of reprisal if sexual favours are not given; or sexual assault (Criminal Code offense).
Sexual Exploitation: Occurs when a perpetrator takes non‐consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for their own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited.
Survivor: Some who have experienced sexual violence may choose to identify as a survivor. Individuals might be more familiar with the term “victim”. We use the term survivor throughout this policy where relevant because some who have experienced sexual assault believe they have overcome the violent experience and do not wish to identify with the victimization. It is the prerogative of the person who has experienced these circumstances to determine how they wish to identify.
Voyeurism: Observing a person, including by mechanical or electronic means, or making a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy.
All members of the Seneca Community have a right to work and study in an environment that is free from any form of sexual violence. This Policy and its related Protocol sets out the way in which we address sexual violence. It ensures that those who are affected by sexual violence are believed and appropriately accommodated and ensures that Seneca has a process of investigation that protects the rights of individuals and holds individuals who have committed an act of sexual violence accountable.
Seneca is committed to being a safe and positive space where members of the Seneca community feel able to work, learn, and express themselves in an environment free from sexual violence. We endeavour to reduce sexual violence in our College community and create a safe space for survivors and those who are affected by sexual violence.
All reported incidents of sexual violence will be investigated and in a manner that ensures due process. It is the intention of Seneca that individuals feel comfortable about making a report in good faith about sexual violence that they have experienced or witnessed.
Seneca recognizes that sexual violence can occur between individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or relationship status as articulated in the Ontario Human Rights Code. We also recognize that individuals who have experienced sexual violence may experience emotional, academic, financial, or other challenges.
Seneca is committed to:
A complaint of sexual assault or any other kind of sexual violence can be filed under this Policy by any member of the Seneca community. Seneca will seek to achieve procedural fairness in dealing with all complaints. As such, no sanction and/or disciplinary action will be taken against a person or group without their knowledge where there is an alleged breach of this Policy. Respondents will be given reasonable notice, with full detail of the allegations, and provided with an opportunity to answer to the allegations made against them.
A complainant has the right to withdraw a complaint at any stage of the process. However, Seneca may continue to act on the issue identified in the complaint in order to comply with its obligation under this Policy and/or its legal obligations. Seneca may also continue to act when there is a threat to the safety of the Seneca community.
It is contrary to this Policy for anyone to retaliate, engage in reprisals, or threaten to retaliate against a complainant or other individual for:
Seneca takes reasonable steps to protect persons from reprisals, retaliation, and threats. This may entail, for example, advising individuals in writing of their duty to refrain from committing a reprisal and sanctioning individuals for a breach of this duty. Seneca may also address the potential for reprisals by providing an accommodation appropriate in the circumstances.
If a person, in good faith, discloses or files a sexual violence complaint that is not supported by evidence gathered during an investigation, that complaint will be dismissed. Disclosures or complaints that are found, following investigation, to be frivolous, vexatious or bad faith complaints, that is, made to purposely annoy, embarrass or harm the respondent, may result in sanctions and/or discipline against the complainant.
Confidentiality is particularly important to those who have disclosed sexual violence. The confidentiality of all persons involved in a report of sexual violence must be strictly observed, and Seneca does its best to respect the confidentiality of all persons, including the complainant, respondent, and witnesses by restricting routine access to information to individuals with a need for such access providing education and training to those who are regularly involved in the administration of reports and complaints.
However, confidentiality cannot be assured in the following circumstances:
In such circumstances, information would only be shared with necessary services to prevent harm, and the name of the survivor would not be released to the public.
Where Seneca becomes aware of an allegation of sexual violence by a member of the Seneca community against another member of the Seneca community, Seneca may also have an obligation to take steps to ensure that the matter is dealt with in order to comply with Seneca’s legal obligation and/or its policies to investigate such allegations. In such cases, certain Seneca administrators will be informed about the reported incident on a “need to know” and confidential basis, but not necessarily of the identities of the persons involved.
If you have experienced or have been affected by sexual violence and require support and accommodation please call:
If you wish to file a report you can call the police at 911 or Security at 416.491.5050 ext. 88.
If you want to speak to someone directly, please go to the local campus Security Office.
It is often difficult to disclose and report incidents of sexual violence. It is entirely up to you if you choose to report the incident; however, we strongly encourage you to do so. A number of other resources are available to you and those who may be affected by sexual violence, including:
Information about additional resources is available in Appendix II.
Anyone who has been affected by sexual violence has the right to:
Please note that you are not required to file a formal complaint to obtain supports, services, or appropriate accommodation from Seneca.
Security or Student Conduct can assist you with filing a complaint. If the alleged perpetrator is another member of the Seneca community, you may file a complaint under this Policy.
Individuals who have experienced sexual violence may also wish to press charges under the Criminal Code. Seneca Security can also assist you with contacting the local police. More information on filing a complaint is available by emailing Seneca Security.
If you have witnessed sexual violence, please call Seneca Security at 416.491.5050 ext. 88 and they will assist you by providing all the resources and necessary support. If you want to speak to someone directly, please go to your local security office.
A number of other resources are available to you, including:
Information about additional resources is available in Appendix II.
Faculty, staff, other employees, and contractors have a duty to immediately report all incidents and suspected incidents of sexual violence to Campus Security Management. Employees can access supports and services through Human Resources.
Students are strongly encouraged to report incidents of sexual violence, but do not need to report incidents of sexual violence to obtain supports, services, or accommodation from Seneca.
All members of the Seneca community who have witnessed sexual violence have a duty to cooperate with a Seneca investigation.
A person may choose to confide in someone about an act of sexual violence, such as a student, instructor, teaching assistant, coach, or staff from housing, health, counselling, or security. An individual who has experienced sexual violence may also disclose to staff or faculty members when seeking support and/or academic accommodation. A supportive response involves:
If disclosure is made to faculty or staff by a student seeking support or academic accommodation, the faculty or staff should refer the student to Campus Security Management, and work with Counselling and Accessibility Services to ensure that the student receives all necessary academic and other accommodation.
As indicated above, if faculty or staff of Seneca becomes aware of an allegation of sexual violence against another member of the Seneca community, the faculty or staff is required to report the alleged incident to Campus Security Management immediately.
Sensitive and timely communication with individuals who have experienced sexual violence and their family members (when an individual consents to this communication) is a central part of Seneca’s first response to sexual violence. To facilitate communication Seneca will:
While everyone on campus has a role to play in responding to incidents of sexual violence, some campus members will have specific responsibilities which might include:
Where a complaint of sexual violence has been reported to the College, Seneca will exercise care to protect and respect the rights of both the complainant and the respondent. Seneca understands that individuals who have experienced sexual violence may wish to control whether and how their experience will be dealt with by the police and/or Seneca. In most circumstances, the person will retain this control. A person who has experienced sexual violence may choose not to request an investigation and has the right not to participate in any investigation that may occur.
In certain circumstances, however, Seneca may be required to initiate an internal investigation and/or inform the police of the need for a criminal investigation, even without the survivor’s consent, if Seneca believes that the safety of other members of the Seneca community is at risk. The confidentiality and anonymity of the person(s) affected will be prioritized in these circumstances.
A report of sexual violence may also be referred to the police or to other community resources, at the complainant’s request, where the person(s) involved are not members of the Seneca community, or otherwise where appropriate in circumstances where Seneca is unable to initiate an internal investigation under this Policy.
Seneca adheres to the following in investigating and making decisions about formal complaints. If an entitlement set out below conflicts with something set out in another College policy, the entitlement set out below shall prevail.
The Student Conduct Office is responsible for the intake, investigation, and decision making on a report of sexual violence adhering to the procedures outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. Seneca may also decide to use an external investigator when appropriate in the circumstances. Sexual violence is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, Personal Safety and Security Threat, and the Discrimination and Harassment policies. It is considered a serious offence and will be addressed in a manner which is consistent with other serious offences. Please see each policy for more details on each disciplinary process.
As set out in the Student Code of Conduct, appeals of student violations may be pursued based on limited grounds and are heard by the Office of the Vice President Academic or their designate.
The perpetration of sexual violence is a violation of an employee’s duty to their employer. It is also a violation of the Personal Safety and Security Threat Policy and the Discrimination and Harassment Policy. Such misconduct may also violate one of Seneca’s collective agreements. Human Resources is responsible for the intake, investigation, and decision-making on a report of sexual violence. Seneca may also decide to use an external investigator when appropriate in the circumstances. Allegations against employees will be addressed in accordance with the Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Policy and this protocol, as well as any of the other policies mentioned herein, and, where applicable, the relevant collective agreement.
There is no formal appeal process for employee violations, though College employees who are members of a union may file a grievance as permitted by the applicable collective agreement.
Contractors, suppliers, volunteers, or visitors who attend on campus will be subject to complaints if they engage in prohibited conduct.
All contractual relationships entered into by Seneca will be governed by a standard contract compliance clause stating that contractors must comply with this Policy and the Ontario Human Rights Code, including co-operating in investigations. Seneca may also decide to use an external investigator when appropriate in the circumstances.
There is no formal appeal process for supplier, volunteer, contractor, or visitor violations.
Where criminal and/or civil proceedings are commenced in respect of the allegations of sexual violence, Seneca shall conduct its own independent investigation into such allegations, and will make its own determination in accordance with its policies and procedures. Where there is an ongoing criminal investigation, Seneca will cooperate with the local police.
Except as otherwise stated in this Protocol, Seneca provides those whose rights, privileges, or interests may be affected by a decision with notice of the decision to be made, disclosure of facts relevant to the decision, and an opportunity to be heard. Seneca may decide how it meets these obligations in different circumstances and will do so with a view to providing a fair process, making a sound decision, and preserving the dignity of survivors. Seneca has the right to withhold disclosure early on in its process to obtain a person’s independent recollection of events.
Complainants and respondents may attend meetings with a single (non-participating) support person. Seneca considers requests to attend meetings with additional support persons and with legal or other representation on a case-by-case basis with a view to promoting a fair and expeditious process. Seneca may question and expect direct answers from an individual who is represented.
The rights and privileges of a respondent may be restricted by Seneca before it makes a final determination about the alleged misconduct. For example, a respondent may be moved from a complainant’s residence, restricted from entering certain parts of campus, and restricted from attending class. An employee respondent may be temporarily removed from the workplace.
Such interim measures will be imposed only as necessary to meet the needs of complainants and persons who report incidents of sexual violence or otherwise under the Personal Safety and Security Threats Policy. Seneca will also take steps to minimize the impact of these measures on respondents.
Interim measures are not punishment and do not represent a finding of misconduct. Seneca may impose interim measures immediately without a hearing. Respondents may ask Seneca to review a decision to impose interim measures, but only to address the impact of the imposed measure and the preference for other alternatives.
Seneca will determine, based on its investigation, what happened and whether it constitutes sexual violence or another form of misconduct. If Seneca finds there has been misconduct it will determine the appropriate sanction. Students may face discipline, up to and including expulsion. Employees may face discipline, up to and including discharge. Contractors, suppliers, volunteers, and visitors may face penalties, cancellation of contracts, and other sanctions. Seneca may also impose non-punitive measures such as:
Seneca will inform the complainant(s) and respondent(s) of its investigation findings in writing. The written decision summary will include a brief description of any corrective action that Seneca has taken or will take as a result of its investigation.
To talk to someone:
Call a distress line: 416.408.4357 (HELP) TTY: 416.408.0007
For emergency shelters and the closest free meal:
416.392.3777 or toll free 1.866.392.3777
If you experience thoughts of suicide:
Go to your closest hospital emergency department
Call a distress line: 416.408.4357 (HELP), TTY: 416.408.0007
For immediate medical advice:
Call Telehealth: 1.866.797.0000, TTY: 1.866.797.0007
For sexual assault/violence:
Assaulted Women’s Helpline 416.863.0511, 1.866.863.0511, TTY 1.866.863.7868
Yellow Brick House Toll Free: 1.800.263.3247 TTY: 905.751.1712
Barbra Schlifer Clinic Safety Planning 416.323.9149 ext. 234
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Provincial Crisis and Support Line Toll Free: 1.866.887.0015
For mental health:
Gerstein Centre: 416.929.5200 (same number for TTY service)
For walk-in counselling:
Catholic Family Services – Peel / Dufferin Region Brampton: 905.450.1608 ext. 101
Mississauga: 905.897.1644 ext. 101
Bolton: 905.450.1608 ext. 101
For child protection:
Children’s Aid society of Toronto 416.924.4646
Yellow Brick House 905.727.1944
Barbra Schlifer Clinic Transitional Housing Support 416.323.9149 ext. 234
Outreach Services (counselling, legal):
Yellow Brick House 1.877.222.8438
Catholic Family Services 416.921.1163
Barbra Schlifer Clinic Legal Assistance 416.323.9149 ext. 278
Daily Bread Food Bank: 416.203.0050
AIDS & Sexual Health Info Line: 1.800.668.2437
Post-secondary Student Help line Good2Talk: 1.866.925.5454 or connect through 2-1-1
|Region in Ontario||Sexual Assault Centre||24–hr Crisis Line||Office Phone|
(Sault Ste. Marie)
|Women In Crisis Algoma||1.877.759.1230||705.759.1230|
|Belleville–Quinte||Sexual Assault Centre for Quinte & District||1.877.544.6424||613.967.6300|
|Brant||Sexual Assault Centre of Brant||519.751.3471||519.751.1164|
|Bruce County||Women's House Serving Bruce and Grey: Sexual Assault Services||1.866.578.5566||519.372.1113|
|Chatham–Kent||Chatham–Kent Sexual Assault Crisis Centre||519.354.8688||519.354.8908|
|Cornwall||Sexual Assault Support Services for Women, Cornwall||English: 613.932.1603
|Counselling Centre of East Algoma||1.800.721.0077||705.848.2585|
|Guelph–Wellington||Guelph–Wellington Women in Crisis||519.836.5710
|Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Services of Halton||905.875.1555||906.825.3622|
|Hamilton||Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton & Area (SACHA)||905.525.4162||905.525.4573|
(Peterborough & Area)
|Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre||705.741.0260||705.748.5901|
|Kenora||Kenora Sexual Assault Centre||807.468.7233
|Kingston||Sexual Assault Centre Kingston||613.544.6424
|Waterloo||Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region||519.741.8633||519.571.0121|
|London–Middlesex||Sexual Assault Centre London||519.438.2272
|Muskoka||Athena’s Sexual Assault Counselling & Advocacy Centre||705.737.2008
|Niagara||Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre||905.682.4584||905.682.7258|
|Nipissing||Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing||705.476.3355||705.840.2403|
|Oshawa–Durham||Oshawa–Durham Rape Crisis Centre||905.668.9200||905.444.9672|
|Ottawa SASC||Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa||613.234.2266||613.725.2160|
|Ottawa RCC||Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre||613.562.2333||613.562.2334|
|Peel||Hope 24/7: Sexual Assault Centre of Peel||1.800.810.0180||905.792.0821|
|Renfrew||Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County||1.800.663.3060||613.735.5551|
|Sarnia–Lambton||Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre Sarnia–Lambton||519.337.3320||519.337.3154|
|Sudbury||Voices for Women Sudbury Sexual Assault Centre||705.523.7100 ext. 2647|
|Thunder Bay||Thunder Bay Sexual Abuse & Sexual Assault Counselling & Crisis Centre||807.344.4502||807.345.0894|
|Timmins||Timmins and Area Women in Crisis||1.877.268.8380||705.268.8381|
|Toronto||Multicultural Women Against Rape/Toronto Rape Crisis Centre||416.597.8808||416.597.1171|
|Windsor–Essex||Sexual Assault Crisis Centre of Essex County||519.253.9667||519.253.3100|
|York||Women’s Support Network of York Region||1.800.263.6734
Pour le support francophone aux femmes victimes d’agression sexuelle:
CALACS (Francophone Sexual Assault Centres) in Ontario
Centre Passerelle pour femmes: CALACS du Nord de l’Ontario
C.P. 849 Timmins (Ontario) P4N 7G7
Centre francophone d'aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel d'Ottawa
40, rue Cobourg
Ottawa (Ontario) K1N 8Z6
Centre Novas : Centre francophone d'aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel de Prescott-Russell
Casselman (ON) K0A 1M0
1.866.772.9922 poste 221
Carrefour des femmes du Sud-Ouest de l'Ontario: CALACS de la région du Sud-Ouest
Casier Postal 774, London (ON ) N6A 4Y8
Centre Victoria pour femmes
Sudbury (ON) P3E 4P2
Centr’Elle, centre des Femmes Francophones du Nord-Ouest de l'Ontario
P.O. Box 26058
Thunder Bay (Ontario) P7B 0B2
Oasis Centre des femmes
465 Yonge Street PO Box 73022 Wood Street PO Toronto ON M4Y 2W5
Colibri - Centre des femmes francophones du comté de Simcoe
80, rue Bradford, bureau 340
Barrie (ON) L4N 6S7
Centre de santé communautaire Hamilton/Niagara - Espace entre Elles
1320 rue Barton Est
Hamilton (Ontario) L8H 2W1
Pour le support francophone aux femmes victimes d'agression sexuelle, se il vous plaît visitez (for French-language support to women victims of sexual assault, please also visit): Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes.